Thursday, November 09, 2006

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, November 9, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, War Hawk down Donald Rumsfleld continues to collect professional obits but not many mourners, Cindy Sheehan continues to demonstrate more life and spirit than the media, Tom Hayden looks to what needs to be done now, and some data on the US elections is now known (even if not noted by gas bags).

Starting with War Hawk Down, Rumsfeld is Rumsfled and though the obits continue to pile up where are the mourners for his professional demise? Has even the U of Minnesota drop-out lost her gift for hagiography? Some say it's lonely at the top, Rumsfled discovers it's lonely at the bottom as well. Around the world, the feedback comes in. Mussab Al-Khairalla (Reuters) reports on the Iraqi consensus and the AP notes that a similar consensus around the world while John F. Burns and Michael Lou (New York Times) note Iraqi Sadoon al-Zubaidi response: "The Americans came to Iraq three and a half years ago to do something good for Iraqis, to free them from dictatorship. That has failed. The Americans helped, encouraged and planted civil disorder and sectarianism. Now, I would like to see all American troops taken out. I’d like to see all the reins of power placed in Iraqi hands."

Philippe Naughton (Times of London) notes that the next US Secretary of Defense will have "the clearest missions: get American troops out of Iraq as quickly and cleanly as possible."
Bully Boy has nominated Robert Gates for that position. Speaking with Nora Barrows Friedman yesterday on Flashpoints, Robert Parry noted Gates' involvement in Iran-Contra. Today on Democracy Now!, Parry also noted the involvement and the questions that had never been answered including, as Amy Goodman noted, his role in providing weapons to Saddam Hussein which he was just convicted for using. Online, Parry (Consortium News) delves into the world of Gates, his Bush family connections and concludes that "whether Gates can be counted on to do what's in the interest of the larger American public is another question altogether."

Another issue, especially considering the illegal warrantless spying by the administration, is whether former CIA director Gates is the one to be put in charge of the US Defense Department since, as many can remember, the illegal spying of an earlier period wasn't confined to the FBI and the CIA, it also included DoD spying?

In US elections news, control over both houses of Congress shifted to Democrats yesterday when two Senate races were called: Jon Tester won in Montanna and Jim Webb in Virginia. On the Webb race, as Feminist Wire Daily points out, there was "a ten-point gender gap" between those voting for Webb and those voting for George Allen (with women favoring Webb over Allen by ten-points). FWD also notes that "women voted five percentage points more (56 percent) for Democrats than men (51 percent). Kim Gandy (president of NOW) sums up the results: "Women voters cleaned House. We turned out on Tuesday to turn out the politicians who were tuning out our concerns. Women are fed up with the 'stay the course' strategy in Iraq, the so-called economic recovery that has left most of the country behind, and the relentless efforts to limit women's reproductive rights. The 'gender gap' is alive and well, and making a difference on election day." [Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) noted that "young voters voted overwhelmingly Democratic."]

Noting the Democratic control, Tom Hayden (writing at Common Dreams) reminds that: "The Vietnam War continued for seven senseless years after the Paris peace talks began. While scaling back its original victory plans, the US still wants to station tens of thousands of troops in subdued, and perhaps partitioned, Iraq, and it wasnt the issue neutralized by the 2008 elections. The peace movement therefore needs to gear up for the 2008 elections by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states."

Possibly having a panic attack over the concept of peace or just dismayed regarding the lack of breast-beating over Rumsfled's impending departure (and worried about his own ass), John Howard, prime Minister of Australia and professional War Hawk, rushes to weigh in. Though not known previously as a student of American politics, Gillian Bradford (Australia's ABC) reports that Howard is downplying the election results and claiming that it boils down to Bully Boy "running a Budget deficit" that led to Republicans staying home. When considering post-government careers, Howard would be wise to skip teaching. Translation, the deficit was not covered as an issue in the leadup and it was not named in polling.

Howard's attempt to spin the illegal war comes at a time when Carne Ross is criticizing Tony Blair's government's actions with regards to the illegal war. On Iraq, the BBC reports that the British diplomat told MPs that "our policy has been a rank disaster in the last few years in terms of blood shed. By that measure that invasion has been a much greater disaster even than Suez." Ross also informed the MPs that the current state was predicted and that during talks between the US government and the British government England's Foreign Office "would say, with emphasis, we do not believe regime change is a good idea in Iraq and the reason we do not believe that is that we think Iraq would break up and that would lead to chaos if you do that."

In Iraq the chaos and violence continues with CBS and AP noting: "October was a particularly bloody month for Iraqis, with more than 1,200 killed, and November so far looks to be just as bad. At least 66 Iraqis were killed on Wednesday, although that is likely much lower than the true figure since many deaths go unreported. Since this summer, the United Nations has bumped its daily death toll estimate to 100 per day."


Sabah Jerges (AFP) observes there were "at least seven explosions" in Baghdad, "the worst being a suicide car bomb that exploded near the Mishin shopping center in the southeast of the city that killed seven people and wounded 27" that appears to be part of a coordinated attack including a mortar round prior to the car bomb (also noted is the death of 10 in Baquba from violence though no details are offered), while in Amara a bomb took one life and left three wounded. CBS and AP note a bombing in Tal Afar that killed three people (including a police officer) and the death of two "when a mortar bomb landed on a car on Palestine street in eastern Baghdad". Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left four wounded; the *wounding* of two police officers in Baghdad as they attempted to disarm a bomb; a car bomb in Baghdad (Abu Ghraib district) that resulted in five people being killed; and two dead and four wounded in Tal Afar from a rocket attack.


Qais al-Bashir (AP) notes an attack on "a primary school" in Muqdadiyah that left "a policeman, a guard and a student" dead; while in Baghdad, two incidents (one a drive-by) claimed three lives; and, in Mosul, a wife and husband were shot dead (the husband was with the Iraqi military). Reuters notes that in addition to the couple, four more people were shot dead in Mosul.


Qais al-Bashir (AP) reports that eleven corpses were discovered in Baghdad. The count increased to 26, Reuters notes, and four corpses were found in Latifiya. AFP notes that

Meanwhile, Patrick Cockburn (CounterPunch) examines "the rise of the sniper" in the capital and concludes it "will incerase the already numerous ways that Iraqi civilians can die," that the US military often offers "no warning shots"

In peace news, as Sandra Lupien noted yesterday on The KPFA Evening News, Cindy Sheehan was arrested outside the White House when she and others attempted to deliver a petition with at least 80,000 signatures on it. The petition was calling for an end to the war.
Today Military Families Speak Out attempts to deliver their petition to the soon to be gone Rumsfled calling for an end to the back door draft and noting: "We believe that the best course of action is to bring all of our troops home now, and take care of them when they get here. Our loved ones signed up to protect and defend the Constitution of this nation. That is not what they are doing in Iraq."

Today, Trina received an e-mail from the family of a war resister which only underscored to Trina how "hideous" the lack of coverage on this issue is. Trina: "If you believe the war is wrong and needs to end, then you need to cover those who are saying 'NO!' loudly and clearly. The fact that most independent magazines -- even at their own websistes -- can't is beyond disappointing. People standing up need support and their stories need to be told."

US war resisters that should have been in the news in the last two weeks include Kyle Snyder, Joshua Key and Ivan Brobeck. Kyle Snyder returned to the US Tuesday October 31st to turn himself in at Fort Knox after self-checking out and going to Canada. The agreement between Synder's attorney and the military was trashed after the US military had Synder in custody. Snyder self-checked out again. Joshua Key was denied refugee status by the Canadian government this week. Ivan Brobeck returned to the US from Canada this week, on election day, and turned himself in. These stories have garnered very little interest by independent media. Brobeck's return has hardly been noted. (Hurt feelings over the fact that Nora Barrows Friedman got the exclusive interview with Brobeck?) The verdict in Key's case has been noted even less. It's not cutting it and independent media (print and audio) needs to stop kidding themselves that it is. It's shameful.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home.

Ivan Brobeck, Kyle Snyder and Joshua Key are part of a movement of war resistance within the US military that also includes Darrell Anderson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Ehren Watada, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Their stories do matter. It's only the coverage that is lacking.

Which gets to a point Anthony Arnove made on yesterday's Flashpoints regarding the importance of knowing our history and how much energy is expanded to rob people of their history. History is all around -- it's just not getting the coverage. Arrnove and Alice Walker, both guests on yesterday's Flashpoints will be among those bringing history to life via a reading of Howard Zinn and Arnove's Voices of a People's History of the United States tonight (7:30 p.m.) at the Berkeley Community Theatre (1930 Allston Way) and along with Walker and Arnove, other participants will also include Mos Def, Steve Earle and Zinn himself.

Finally, Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, continue their speaking tour to raise awareness on Ehren -- the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Due to increased interest there have been some date changes and a full schedule can be found here. Upcoming dates include:

Nov 9, 11AM, Philadelphia, PA, Press Conference
Location: TBA Sponsors: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Mothers
Contact: Bill Perry, 215-945-3350,
Nov 9, 12:30PM, Philadelphia, PA., University Appearance
Location: Rutgers, Details TBA
Sponsors: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Mothers
Contact: Bill Perry, 215-945-3350,
Professor Elizabeth Hillman (RU Law School), Board of Governors Professor Roger S. Clark (Rutgers-Camden), and Bill Perry of Delaware Valley Veterans For America
Nov 9, 3:30PM, Philadelphia, PA., University Appearance,
Location: St. Joseph's University, Bldg. & Room TBA
Sponsors: : Iraq Veterans Against the War, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Mothers
Bob Watada, Patrick Resta of IVAW, Bill Perry of Delaware Valley Veterans For America, and Professor Katherine Sibley (St. Joseph's University)
Nov 9, 7PM, Philadelphia, PA., Location: University of Pennsylvania
Annenberg Center Room 109,
Sponsors: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Mothers
Contact: Bill Perry, 215-945-3350,
Bob Watada, Professor Carolyn Marvin (Annenberg School for Communications), Patrick Resta of IVAW, and Bill Perry of Delaware Valley Veterans For America
Nov 10, Early PM, New York City, NY., Press Conference
Location: UN, 777 United Nations Plaza, First Avenue and E. 44th Street
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34
Contact: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
George McAnanama,
Nov 10, 7:30PM, New York City, NY.
Location: St. Paul/St. Andrews Methodist Church -- West End Avenue and West 86th Streets,
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34
Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
Nov 11, 10AM-2:30PM, New York City, NY.,Veterans Day Parade
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace Chapters 34 & 138, IVAW, MFSO
Contacts: Thomas Brinson, 631-889-0203,
George McAnanama,
Nov 11, 3-5 PM, Flushing, NY.,
Location: Macedonia AME Church (718) 353-5870
37-22 Union St.
Sponsors: "United for Lt. Watada"
Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710,
Nov 11, 7 PM, New York City, NY., Manhattan,
Location: Columbia University, Broadway and W 116 St., Bldg- Mathematics Rm 312
Sponsors: Asian American Alliance, "United for Lt. Watada",
Veterans For Peace Chapters 138 & 34
Contact: Gloria Lum 646-824-2710
Nov 12, 11AM-1PM, Providence, RI.,
Location: Brown University, The John Nicholas Brown Center,
357 Benefit Street at Williams
Sponsor: Veterans For Peace National
Contact: Naoko Shibusawa, 401-286-1908,
Nov 12, 7PM, Rockland County, NY.
Location: TBA
Sponsor: Rockland Coalition for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace National and Veterans For Peace Chapter /Rockland County
Contact: Nancy Tsou,
Barbara Greenhut
Nov 13 , TBA, Ann Arbor, MI, “The Ground Truth” and Bob Watada
Location: University of Michigan, Angel Hall, Auditorium B
Sponsors: Michigan Peace Works,
Contact: Phillis Engelbert, work - 734-761-5922, home - 734-662-0818, cell- 734-660-489,

Nov 14, TBA St. Louis, Mo. Location: Friends Meeting House
1001 Park Avenue Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, 314-754-2651
Contact: Chuc Smith, 314-721-1814,

kyle snyder
amy goodman

democracy now

joshua key

ehren watada
bob watada

[C.I. note: Correction -- "*wounding*" -- not the death of.]